I began this program in the midst of two significant life changes: I was a new father, and I had left a job I loved, having spent seven years working in environmental conservation. However, I felt my calling was in information science, and made the move to return to school. My daughter was nine months old when I started taking courses. The flexible school schedule allowed me to actively care for her while pursuing my education. She recently had her third birthday, on the cusp of my graduation.
During my first year in the program I targeted as many in-person classes as my schedule would allow. Weekly in-person courses I took during my first year included Information Organizations and Management, Issues in Academic Libraries, and Archives and Manuscripts. I benefited from the personal connections I made with other students over the course of that first year, connections that have helped me professionally, academically, and personally (as some have gone on to become my closest friends). In particular I enjoyed the repartee in Dr. Bill Fisher’s Information Organizations and Management course, which was lively and engaging and gave the School a sense of place for me.
The other class that profoundly influenced my thinking on libraries was the History of Books and Libraries I took online with Dr. Linda Main and Dr. Debbie Hansen. I feel that class exemplifies what online education has the potential to be: it was challenging and extensive, demanded much of my time, but was fair and the expectations weren’t unreasonable. The instructors invested their time in it as well, preparing and disseminating long lectures, administering tests and maintaining high standards for our academic work. That I did well in that course is something I am extremely proud of. It was also the beginning of my interest in library history, particularly the 19th century. While one of my undergraduate majors was History, my emphasis was on premodern Europe; for me, 19th century Americana was a new subject, but a fascinating one, starting with Dr. Hansen’s lectures on the topic and continued with my ongoing research (discussed under Competency L).
For my second year in the program I turned the emphasis of my schedule away from in-person classes in favor of pursuing internships, with a Fall 2008 internship at the University of San Francisco and a Summer and Fall 2009 (non-course) internship at the California Academy of Sciences. To all future students, I cannot recommend strongly enough the experience you get and the connections you make from pursuing internships. The camaraderie and respect I encountered, and the mentorship I received, from the reference staff at the University of San Francisco was remarkable and memorable. Likewise, the opportunities afforded me by the California Academy of Sciences – directly handing archival materials, curating my own exhibit in the library reading room – has given me invaluable, transferable experience as I move forward towards my professional career.
Finally, the last class that strongly affected my perspective and advanced my skills was Advanced Information Technology Tools and Applications with Debbie Faires. I had already taken an interest in emerging technology trends, having written two research papers on issues relating to the “Library 2.0″ phenomena. However, this class freshened my thinking on the topic and gave me a genuine skillset for using technology tools. It gave me marketable abilities for distance instruction (such as screencasting), ideas for library outreach, and launched The Pinakes as the venue for my online professional persona.
My education with the San José State’s School of Library and Information Science has successfully prepared me to be a contributing information professional. In particular, I believe I have demonstrable skills in academic reference, library instruction, historical research, archiving and technology tools. Fundamentally, my outgoing, social personality is my calling card, allowing me to be amiable and congenial in what is a social service profession, comfortable with all manners of public interaction. My ease with computers and technology use allows me to be a contributor to a library’s cutting-edge programs and information technology needs. My love for the legacy of our profession motivates my work ethic. My communication skills allow me to work with a team to improve institutional service, and my professional experience outside of the information field gives me budget and grant experience, as well as a wider perspective.
My background – undergraduate majors in History and Theater Arts, professional experience in Environmental Conservation, activity with the San Francisco Fringe Festival, and internship experience at the California Academy of Sciences – combine to give me subject expertise in history, performing arts and natural sciences, all of which have great relevance in academic settings and archival institutions.
Professional Growth Plan
It is no secret that with a slow economy, crippled state budgets and impacted endowments, finding a full time professional role is difficult right now. However, I am confident in my ability to launch a career for a number of reasons. As I outlined in my Statement of Professional Philosophy, I have not isolated my career goals to one sector or another but am willing to consider a broad cross-section of positions. I have endeavored to network via my internships and association memberships and feel I have made connections with a number of supportive professionals at different institutions.
My first position will be as a temporary archives assistant with the California Academy of Sciences. This three-month role, starting in mid-January, will teach me digital archiving and database skills I did not have the time to learn during my time at SLIS; these new skills will be eminently transferable to any number of positions both locally and nationally. Beyond that, and until I find a full-time position with a library, archival repository or museum, I hope to serve as an adjunct librarian at one or more academic libraries or volunteer with the San Francisco History Center. Either of these paths would allow me to make further professional connections, deepen my skills, and keep me active in the profession.
I affirm that all introductory, reflective, and evidentiary work submitted is mine alone (except where indicated as a group or team project), and has been prepared solely by me.
A great many people have contributed to my success with this e-Portfolio and my MLIS experience as a whole. First I would like to thank Dr. Daniel Fuller for serving as my e-Portfolio advisor and his careful review of each entry. I would not have been able to complete this project to my satisfaction without his incisive comments. I would also like to make a special acknowledgment of Dr. Debra Hansen for her mentorship in my particular field of interest, library history and research. Other professors and instructors with whom I have taken courses include Jean Bedord, Bill Fisher, Kristen Clark, Linda Main, James Schmidt, Lily Luo, David de Lorenzo, David Midyette, Denise Goetting, and Debbie Faires.
Several of my peers at SLIS assisted me with this e-Portfolio by either reviewing my entries or sharing their own experiences; in particular I would like to thank Adina Leitner, Carolyn Schubert, Jennifer G. Johnston, Greg Borman and Dawn Bilyeu.
Outside of the program, I would like to thank my parents for their support, and my beautiful daughter Mather, for being fun and funny and a wonderful distraction from academic rigor.
The greatest thanks of all goes to my wife, Emily, who has consistently inspired and pushed me during my matriculation through this program and has read every word of this e-Portfolio. I could not possibly have achieved this degree without her love, support, and sacrifice.